I went skydiving today and it was FREAKING AWESOME!
I jumped on a train to Sydney at 5.40am where I met my friend and we got the bus to Wollongong just after 7am. We got there a bit late (partially my fault, partially not) and as we were in the first group to go, we put on our gear quick smart and got taken through what we would have to do.
The guys were absolutely lovely - very easygoing and reassuring. We took a 10 minute drive to the airport, climbed into a tiny plane and lined ourselves up. There we got strapped onto our instructors. My friend and I were at the front of the line as we were due to jump first.
We took a lovely 15 minute flight up and around Wollongong and climbed to 14,000 feet (over 4 kilometres!) Again, the guys were lovely. Mine kept asking me how I was going and giving me pointers for keeping calm. He even cleaned my goggles for me before I put them on.
Next thing I know, the door is open and my friend is perched in the doorway, only to be gone a split second later. Before I even knew what was happening, I was in the doorway as well and my instructor was reminding me to cross my arms in front of my chest. Next thing, we're out! It was a slightly cloudy day which I think made it all the more terrifying because we just fell into greyness for a few seconds. Then the landscape opened up and I uncrossed my arms and just hurtled towards earth. I got a bit teary because it was such an overwhelming experience.
After about a minute of freefall, he pulled the parachute and there was a jolt. Then we cruised down and took in the scenery, which was absolutely stunning - beaches, ocean, mountains, bush, cities etc. He asked me before we left if I wanted a wild ride or a tranquil one and I said 'tranquil', but he had other ideas. He kept spinning us around in circles, which was thrilling, but not so great afterwards because I was a bit crook for a couple of hours. I also got to 'steer' a little bit.
You seem to lose all strength when you're in the air; on the ground he showed me how to pull my legs up to keep them out of the way when we landed, but it's a very different story in the air - I could barely move my legs at all! Luckily, when it came to the crunch, I was able to keep 'em out of the way.
Now, I'm not a confident or brave person, but somehow I managed to escape the worst of the nerves and didn't actually get scared at all until after we'd jumped. All in all, a terrific day, and if you have ever wondered what it would be like to jump out of a plane, DO IT! I promise it's not as terrifying as you might think! (Well, not after the first few seconds...)